So much had been made about the Seattle Mariners winning the World Series and maybe even the Super Bowl and Nobel Peace Prize this season that it may have come as something of a dope slap to the collective grin of M-dom today (March 3) when the baseball team finished the first half of the initial inning of spring training down 3-0.
Hey, no prob. The San Francisco Giants merely had Tim Lincecum on the mound. All right, so Trim Tim won a coupla Cy Young Awards right out of college. During his half of the inning, the former University of Washington wiz faced a no-out, bases-loaded situation with Ken Griffey Jr. at the plate with a favorable count. A sacrifice fly and two hits later, the M's had tied it and seemingly were back in contention for, if not the World Series, at least a victory in game one of the hope-springs-eternal preseason.
The point of a first spring-training game is simply to get guys out there in some semblance of a competitive situation. Pitchers, not expected to be sharp, often aren't (the masterful Lincecum seemingly threw more pitches during his brief Wednesday stint than he did during certain complete games last season).
"A lot of things that you judge in a spring-training game are things that you already know," is the way Seattle G.M. Jack Zduriencik explained things during a third-inning radio chat with team announcer Rick Rizzs.
Jack Z seems to know plenty. By many accounts he's assembled enough pitching and position players to be competitive in the American League for the team's first time since 2001.
The M's sent Doug Fister to the mound, appropriate in that the live-armed right-hander is a key contender for either a fourth or fifth spot in a rotation already sporting a Big Two. Indeed, Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee could prove to be the most formidable consecutive-game right-left tandem in the league.
Fister wasn't exactly in mid-season form but he didn't play appreciably worse than Lincecum. Fister will vie with Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Vargas, Luke French, Garrett Olson, and maybe a half-dozen others looking for rotation and bullpen jobs.
The pitching corps, then, seems fluid while the position roster has solidified. Manager Don Wakamatsu sent out much of his probable opening-day line-up Wednesday, including acquisitions Chone Figgins (second base), Casey Kotchman (first base) and outfielder Milton Bradley joining regulars from last year.
"Nothing is as insignificant as first spring-training-game scores,” noted Hall of Fame announcer Dave Niehaus.
It says all one need know about preseason that Niehaus made the remark several innings before the end of the eventual 10-inning, 8-7 San Francisco victory — all three and a half hours of it.
World Series, here we come.
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